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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacts during a press conference at St Andrews House in Edinburgh.

ANDY BUCHANAN/Pool via REUTERS

Sturgeon's arrest roils Scottish politics

On Sunday, Scotland's former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was briefly detained over a police investigation into some 600,000 pounds ($750,000) worth of missing funds at the Scottish National Party. She was released without being charged after seven hours of questioning.

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Supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga throw stones at riot cops in Nairobi.

REUTERS/John Muchucha

What We’re Watching: Kenyan protest politics, twice the Ma in China, SNP names new leader

Anti-government protests escalate in Kenya

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed a controversial farm owned by Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta. The rioters stole livestock, cut down trees, and then set the land on fire.

The motive likely has something to do with the ongoing protests against the government of President William Ruto captained by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who narrowly lost the 2022 election to Ruto, Kenyatta’s ex-VP. (The members of this political threesome have all worked with each other in the past in Kenya, where elite business and politics are about as tight as can be.)

This behavior is nothing new for Odinga. While the protests are outwardly about the rising cost of living, Eurasia Group analyst Connor Vasey says that the opposition is just “taking his politics to the streets,” using inflation and other grievances as a “lightning rod to ensure turnout”. And while he is officially trying to overturn Ruto’s victory, Vasey believes that what Odinga really wants is an unofficial executive role in government.

From here, we can expect a test of political willpower. Odinga is threatening more rallies, while Ruto says he’ll continue to deploy the security forces against the protesters. The president hopes that if his rival doesn’t get his political concessions soon, popular support for his mobilization will subside.

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Ukraine dominates the dialogue in Munich
Ukraine dominates the dialogue in Munich | Global Stage | GZERO Media

Ukraine dominates the dialogue in Munich

While there are many security risks and global challenges on the agenda at this year’s Munich Security Conference, none have dominated the dialogue more than Ukraine as the war there enters a second year with no clear end in sight. From mainstage speeches to a giant banner hanging across the street from the conference venue that reads, “Ukraine Is You,” unity among Western allies is the clear message.

While there’s truth to that overall, there are many nuances and differences in approach from country to country—Estonia, for example, taking a much more absolutist stance against Vladimir Putin even as France’s President Emmanuel Macron begins to talk about Europe’s relationship with Russia after the war is over.

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FILE photo of Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

SNP handout photo via EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

Sturgeon’s bombshell upends UK politics

In last Friday’s edition, we documented the trials and tribulations now facing Britain’s Conservative Party. This week brought news that further disrupts UK politics.

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Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) Leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Sturgeon's resignation, NATO-Nordic divide, India vs. BBC, Tunisia’s tightening grip

Nicola Sturgeon steps down

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Wednesday that she is stepping down. She’s been in the role for over eight years, having taken power after the failed 2014 independence referendum. Speaking from Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she’d been contemplating her future for weeks and knew "in my head and in my heart" it was time to go. A longtime supporter of Scottish independence, Sturgeon was pushing for a new referendum, which was rejected by the UK’s top court late last year. In recent weeks, she and her colleagues had been debating whether the next national election in 2024 should be an effective referendum on independence. Sturgeon will stay in power until a successor is elected — likely contenders include John Swinney, Sturgeon’s deputy first minister, Angus Robertson, the culture and external affairs secretary, and Kate Forbes, the finance secretary.

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Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, launches her manifesto during the Scottish Parliamentary election in Glasgow, Scotland.

Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via REUTERS

Scotland's rocky road ahead

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, says another independence referendum for Scotland is now a matter of "when not if," and that after leaving the UK, Scotland will launch a bid to rejoin the EU. But there are formidable obstacles ahead.

Getting to a vote will force a complex game of chicken with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If a majority of Scots then vote for independence — hardly a sure thing – the process of extricating their new country from the UK will make Brexit look easy. Next, come the challenges of EU accession. In other words, Scotland's journey down the rocky road ahead has only just begun.

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Demonstrators march for Scottish Independence through Glasgow.

REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scotland votes, with independence on its mind

Scots go to the polls this week to vote in their first parliamentary election since Brexit. We already know that the incumbent Scottish National Party will win most seats. Will its majority be big enough to demand another independence referendum?

Almost seven years ago, Scotland turned down independence in a plebiscite by a 10-point margin. But that was before the entire United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in 2016 — against the wishes of most people in Scotland.

Many Scots felt cheated in the 2014 referendum because a lot of them voted to remain in the UK precisely to also stay in the EU. As post-Brexit political chaos that followed has further boosted nationalist sentiment in Scotland, the outcome of Thursday's vote will be closely watched in four capitals.

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